Sport Australia is the Australian Government’s lead agency responsible for distributing
funds and providing strategic guidance and leadership for sporting activity in Australia.
Sport Australia engages with sporting organisations across state, territory and local
governments (and their respective sports institutes) as well as sports clubs around the
Within this crowded ecosystem, there was a clear gap and opportunity to connect the data
and insights across the different systems that various sporting organisations use to support
a more connected sports sector. The major problem was fragmented and disconnected
data (and related applications). This made it challenging to identify how a user interacted
with a sports organisation and difficult to enable data about these users and their
interactions across different sporting organisations and clubs to be analysed effectively. It
not only created a poor user experience, but also meant there was no way to measure and
improve Australians’ participation in sports and physical activities.
Thoughtworks partnered with Sport Australia to build an integration and interoperability platform with a view to connecting sports systems, including data that can be shared across the sports ecosystem. Aptly called the SportAUS Connect platform, Thoughtworks supported the building of the technology foundations, as well as enhanced capability uplift within Sport Australia’s delivery teams using Agile, DevOps, and continuous deployment to enable Sport Australia to fully reap the benefits of the platform.
The SportAUS Connect platform has been a priority project for Sport Australia and will transform the sports sector. The newly created product team will continue to leverage its success and further build on the platform.
Building an engineering culture and fostering a delivery mindset
Previously, Sport Australia’s IT projects used waterfall methodologies to define COTS (commercial off the shelf) vendor requirements and those requirements were then used to customise, integrate and deploy applications to on-premise infrastructure. The maintenance of these applications would then be supported by their small Application Support Team (BAU team).
Thoughtworks helped Sport Australia establish a new way of working within a multi-disciplinary platform team. The team was able to adopt agile ways of working, foster an engineering culture (DevOps), and enhance automation with continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD), to implement customised software solutions for the SportAUS Connect platform.
To achieve this, the team set up two-week sprint cycles in which to design, build, research, synthesise and showcase findings back to the wider program. Using the evidence collected at the end of each sprint, the team considered when to iterate further in the next sprint, or to focus on a different problem.
We collaborated with the Sport Australia team to understand their ways of working in such a way that not only delivered their outcome but enabled Sport Australia to learn how to deliver it for themselves into the future.
During the process, Sport Australia experienced a capability uplift via targeted agile coaching, pairing on DevOps delivery requirements, joint design and architecture of the overarching solution and deep consultation and identification of key staff to bolster Sport Australia’s own experience design capability. As a result, Sport Australia has established an in-house capability in agile software delivery, DevOps and CI/CD to further support and enhance the SportAUS Connect product.
A digital platform bringing together Australia’s sports ecosystem
Together, Thoughtworks and Sport Australia were able to deliver the SportAUS Connect platform to provide a digital identity service to sport consumers and allow sporting organisations to leverage the platform as an open-source, single sign-on solution. This was built in Microsoft Azure leveraging a wide range of technology capabilities including Azure App Service , Cosmos DB (Mongo API), Terraform, RedHat Keycloak, Azure DevOps(VSTS), Java, Spring boot, Docker, Netflix OSS, Spring Cloud, Gauge.
As part of the same engagement, Thoughtworks also helped deliver a prototype product in only twelve weeks for a data analytics platform. It proved that sports infrastructure data can be visualised through an accessible and web-based tool for the purpose of enabling sports administrators to use data insights for improving sports infrastructure investment decisions. The prototype was developed using a combination of geo-spatial location data and other contextual information such as localised weather trends, travel times, health trends and locations of other types of sports infrastructure in the area.
The long term strategy for the prototype is to further develop the visualisation tool and integrate it to the SportAUS Connect platform as a shared building block for advancing the use of sports infrastructure data by the various state and local government administration bodies.
Today, Sport Australia is in a position to continue to onboard new products of interest to users in the sports sector with a view of creating a digitally connected sports ecosystem for the benefit of Australian citizens.
The Thoughtworks team were key in enabling us to develop and drive the initial steps to digital transformation and product development. With the assistance of the TW team we were able to design and build the SportAUS Connect platform using the latest tech tools and delivery practices.